Posted by Andy on May 29, 2011
Reader Eddy E. wrote in with this gem:
These are AL batting splits by position so far this year. As you can see, the LF cumulatively have an 83 OPS+ putting them as the worst group relative to league average (excluding pitchers, who have a very small number of PAs this year in the AL and are, of course, pitchers.) In raw numbers, LFers have a .651 OPS relative to a league average of .713. They are down about 25 points in OBP and 35 points in SLG.
Some of the guys to have played at least half their time at LF so far this year and have contributed to the poor performance include Delmon Young, Vernon Wells, Travis Snider, Ryan Raburn, Felix Pie, David Murphy, Carl Crawford, Sam Fuld, and Juan Pierre. These guys all have an OPS+ of 83 or less so far in 2011.
The only full-time AL LF who's crushing it is Alex Gordon, to the tune of a 135 OPS+. Luke Scott and Josh Willingham are also doing well, as the combo of Brett Gardner and Andruw Jones has been decent.
Also, just to emphasize how weird this overall performance is, in 2010 the AL LF position had a tOPS+ of 109. In 2009 it was 104. You have to go all the way back to 1999 to find an AL LF tOPS+ under 100. That year it was 96, and that's only because there was so much offense from all positions that most of the values hovered right around 100. Before that, I went back to the 1970s and didn't find any tOPS+ under 100--back then it was as we think of it--corner outfield was a power position and one of the leaders among OPS every year.
Also, to further show how odd it is, over in the NL, the LFers have a 117 tOPS+ so far this season. Guys raking so far include Matt Holliday, Logan Morrison, Ryan Bruan, Jason Bourgeois, Laynce Nix, Alfonso Soriano, and Chris Heisey. Plus there are a handful of other regular LFers have decent seasons: Mike Morse, Pat Burrell, Jerry Sands, and Jose Tabata. These guys have overcome disappointing starts from Carlos Gonzalez (99 OPS+), Raul Ibanez (90), Carlos Lee (85), Tony Gwynn (45), and others.